NextGen School Safety

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Ken Williams

Authority on School Culture & Safety, Author of Starting a Movement

As founder of Unfold the Soul, Kenneth C. Williams, M.Ed. is living proof that educators can and should “live their posters.” A leading authority in the areas of school culture, collaboration, leadership, school safety and peak performance, he is skilled in joining the “why” of educational practice to the “how.” Known for his provocative and engaging combination of “heart, humor and hammer,” Ken is an expert at helping schools make the collective commitment to changes in school culture that are required to ensure high levels of learning for all students. He believes that “what’s best for kids is first and what’s best for adults is a close second.” Ken has served as a distinguished teacher, school leader, speaker and consultant. He is the author of two books: Creating Physical and Emotional Security in Schools and his latest bestseller with Tom Hierck, Starting a Movement: Building Culture from the Inside-Out.

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Vaugn Baker

Intruder Response & Behavior Pattern Recognition Expert, President Strategos Intl.

Vaughn Baker is President of Strategos International, a Kansas City firm that has provided security training to more than 130,000 professionals in 15 countries. Strategos originally focused on training professional first responders, such as law enforcement, in a wide variety of tactical-related topics. In 2007 Vaughn and his associates at Strategos saw the need to begin providing training to the “True First Responder” – those who are on-scene when the crisis begins. He has personally trained thousands of school, healthcare, government, law enforcement and military personnel in security practices. Vaughn has developed specialized intruder response curriculum (including some of the nation’s leading training on behavior pattern recognition) for schools and churches. He spent a number of years in law enforcement including patrol, investigation, SWAT and special operations duties. He also served as deputy director of training for the Surefire Institute, a California-based tactical training company. Vaughn is the author of The Church Security Handbook and co-author of Active Threat.

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Rick Shaw

Prevention Safety Expert, CEO & CDO of Awareity Inc.

Rick Shaw is the Founder, CEO and CDO of Awareity Inc. – a developer of innovative, web-based and award-winning prevention platform for students, employees and communities. He has more than 20 years of experience performing numerous types of assessments (threat, compliance, physical, information security, social media and others), with a focus on prevention processes across multiple industries and types of threats. Rick’s experiences – combined with extensive research using post-event reports, lawsuits and surveys – has helped expose the most dangerous disconnects and potential liabilities facing schools (including new threats related to social media).

In addition to working with organizational leaders, Rick has been called upon to speak at numerous conferences in the United States, Canada, South Korea and Japan for his expertise in safety (student, employee, third-party, community, etc.) and prevention. He utilizes evidence-based data from hundreds of post-event reports and extensive research to expose each point where proper preventive tactics were possible in most incidents and tragedies.

Rick’s passion is student and child safety, and he leads an extensive research effort at Awareity to help educational leaders understand the need for comprehensive and proven prevention solutions to improve student safety and to prevent escalating consequences related to sexual abuse, bullying, cyberbullying, campus violence, suicide, human trafficking, homegrown terrorism and alcohol/drug abuse.

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Heather Forbes

Founder of Beyond Consequences Institute, Author of Help for Billy

Heather T. Forbes, MSW, LCSW, is the founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Heather has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, the impact of trauma on the developing child, adoptive motherhood, and self-development. Her books include the international bestseller Help for Billy, The Trauma-Informed School, Beyond Consequences, Logic or Control and Hand in Hand. Coming from a family of educators, Heather has a heart for children in the classroom and for finding ways to teach the child who seems “unteachable.” Her signature style is to bridge the gap between scientific research and real-life application to equip parents, educators and therapists with practical and effective tools. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two adopted children.

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Ronald Gonzalez

Award-Winning Administrator in a High-Needs Environment

Ronald has lead transformation efforts at Mount Vernon High School for the last 9 years of his 22 year career. His visionary leadership has led to improvements in student performance which include graduation rates the highest in over a decade in a large comprehensive high school in an urban district. He attributes much of the success of this school transformation to the systems he set forth, training of staff and using student voice as an agent of change. 

His leadership has gained recognition among his peers and across New York State. Most notably; 2 Westchester County Legislative Proclamations naming “Ronald Gonzalez Day” on June 16, 2015 AND November 26, 2019; he was named 2016 NYS Administrator of the Year for Region 2 – RASA; is the recipient of several city citations, city council resolutions, and NYS Assembly recognitions. He accredits these accomplishments to the work of the Leadership Team built under his guidance. He recognizes the power of collaboration and endorses both empowerment and accountability equally and emphatically in and among his team. 

Ron’s work as the transformational leader that guided Mount Vernon High School to flourish academically has also been identified as a “School of Promising Practice” by the NYSED Regents Reform and Title I offices. He and the MVHS Leadership Team have provided presentations and technical assistance to schools throughout NYS that have also been identified as Focus Schools. 

His doctoral research focused on transformational leadership of schools. As a practitioner and researcher, the in-depth analysis of New York State data helped him make strategic decisions for implementation within his school. He uses book studies, historical contexts and brain exercises to push the thinking of his staff in an environment of inquiry that encourages risk-taking. 



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Mike Paget

International Speaker, Consultant, Author of Defying the Defiance

Mike Paget currently works as a consultant to schools throughout North America to help them better teach challenging students. As a state consultant for students with severe emotional and behavioral problems, he worked with ODD, CD and other special needs students for more than 25 years. Mike is an innovator of effective approaches for working with extremely challenging students and has conducted seminars across the U.S. and Canada on creative techniques for managing classroom behavior, student aggression and crisis intervention. He is co-author of Aggressive and Violent Students and Defying the Defiance. His newest book is High on the Spectrum: Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism & Related Personalities.

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